Issue #29: Being with Ease

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? We’ve each written our essays weeks ago but life happens, and it took longer than we had expected to put them together for this issue. But here we are again, settling in a comfy, cozy spot in your inbox, with our explorations on Ease. What is it like being with ease? Where in your life do you experience ease? Do you allow yourself to fall into ease?

Ease are the autumn leaves ushered by the wind; the twig guided by the stream; the soaring eagle bolstered by the draft; the baby asleep in its mother’s arms; the dancer led by the music; the being at home in and one with the world.

Here are our explorations:

  1. Essay // In Gratitude // by Daryl

  2. Essay // Falling into ease // by Rosslyn

May you notice and appreciate the ease of being.

Rosslyn & Daryl

ESSAY // by Daryl

In Gratitude

» Listen to Daryl here

Being with ease. Such an odd way of putting it. Unlike anxiety, which usually poses a problem requiring resolution, so to speak, what does it mean to be with ease? I mean, ease doesn’t sound like something that I have to resolve or attend to, right? I might not even notice that I’m in a state of ease.

But isn’t this precisely the issue at hand, that the state of ease could completely slip by me as though it were a non-event? How can the state of ease, which is supposed to be a positive thing, be met with nary a brow raise? I decided to experiment and lay back on my mattress. I adjusted myself slightly to ensure that my neck was not arched, and my shoulders, relaxed. All of a sudden, I felt it. My body went soft (not limp) and it felt as if it melded with the mattress cradling it. That softness rippled through my entire body and not a single body part felt like it needed any support.

My breathing, in turn, became deeper. Each breath took twice as long, if not more, to complete. Yet, not once did it feel labored. And the room suddenly felt so much more, for lack of a better word, intimate. The shadows cast on the walls and around the edges of the cornices became obvious when, normally, they were invisible to me. I never realized how even in the same shadow, there was a gradient in the shade.

Even with the fan whirring in the background, I could hear the silence in the room, a ringing in my ears that blocked out the hustle and bustle from the street below. But enough of that. I closed my eyes to simply be with this current state. It didn’t take long before I felt warmth radiating across my chest. I stayed with it to feel into it a little more while enjoying the comfort it’s providing me. This feeling is oddly familiar. It feels like home, where I’m safe. I don’t merely mean my physical home but home in the sense that all is right in this world.

Then I realized what this feeling is. It’s gratitude. Being with ease means feeling into the gratitude I have. I can be at ease because I am safe, secure, at peace, with nothing urgent to attend to. I experience ease because, subconsciously, I recognize this world as my home and that I belong here. I am at ease because of the unquestioned faith I have in the permanence of my place in the larger scheme of things. And truly recognizing this brings up in me an immense sense of gratitude that I, in this very moment, in this very spot, am privileged enough to enjoy it in its entirety.

Till next time, may you enjoy the comfort of your place in this world.

ESSAY // by Rosslyn

Falling into ease

» Listen to Rosslyn here

18°C/64°F, the optimum temperature for chocolates, red wine, and me. Not only does the emulsion of the cocoa solids in chocolate stay stable for a longer period, my body can also sustain itself in dynamic activity for a longer while.

Such was the temperature this morning, fluctuating only within two degrees throughout the day. My body neither needed to fight any heat nor cold, it was kept at a temperature best suited for incubation, for my growth. It mattered not that the clouds shut the sky out, the weather was too perfect to be down in gloom. My calendar is not full, I can enjoy this ease.

The ball bounces up, and with a light stroke, I hit it low over the net following through with my swing. back exhaling through that nice stretch. Playing tennis feels effortless and fun today. Summer isn’t gnawing on my skin, or beating me down, or draining energy through my pores unnecessarily. It felt as though my body could go on forever. I could sprint and jump without panting or perspiring, and my chest felt comfortably warm in my thin, lightweight jacket I bought earlier this year to block summer’s intense rays.

There’s patience and grace in my moves when I am not under the pressure to get it right. When I had to battle the heat out of concern to conserve physical energy, I became more adamant about making my shots count, hence, lousier play.

Ease lies in our bodies. Are we comfortable being here, existing, fully embodied in the now?

Naturally, being the modern, sophisticated race of our mammal species, we can’t have it too easy. We have to plan and conceive of ideas that will take us safely into the morrow. Just like my mind continued to carry the bulky load from the thoughts over breakfast about planning a visit back to Singapore before the year ends. Its grip was fairly tight, burdening my chest. I wavered, almost missing the shot flying beyond my reach to the far-right end of the court.

My physical capacity and endurance have long been an issue for me. Despite being a racket-sports player since young, my stamina was lacking, and I suffered from a low threshold for pain. Any form of intense training felt daunting. My father used to tell me to toughen up, I was too weak for his liking, and he was concerned for my survival in what he deemed a competitive and hostile world. I recall bracing for physical training or any activity that would take a toll on my body. How will I survive what might be at least 30+ hours of travel and transit? I shudder at the imminent prospect of death, overwhelmed by the ordeal through the doors and gantries I had envisioned.

Beautiful morning, do I really want to miss fall in preparation for the arriving winter? Or do I want to be here: one with fall? As I soak in the tranquil and natural symphony, an electric band joined in—a lawnmower roars and a drill went off. Ah I see, there are others also enjoying the cool weather, and perhaps happily carrying out chores, or not. I won’t know, but when I allow these sounds to partake in the music, I continue to appreciate the morning's ease. Peace is breached only when we exclude and resist what wants to join in the party.

The ball hits the edge of the net before tipping over. The umpire caws, announcing the score, while a pair of spectators whistle as they fly from treetop to treetop for clear vantage points. I’m on a roll today. Despite not having regular practice, my body is still flowing through the motions, placing itself for the best shots possible. That said, I am no expert in tennis. Lifting the ball from a low point and sending it smoothly just across the net is one of the most beautiful moves my body of three months’ tennis experience has coordinated to perform.

Both Daryl and I are beginners who had barely swung tennis rackets back in Singapore. We began in spring this year, adapting our badminton skills to tennis, with reminders to each other to swing with our backs and shoulders instead of our forearms. We don’t want to risk injury. And like children, we played. Did you know, things are the easiest when you play like children? We shared pure joy and laughter just by being able to bounce the ball off our rackets and over the net without going over the fence, then progressing to align the sweet spots on our rackets to the ball when we hit. Bit by bit, we let our bodies enjoy the movement and our minds appreciate the clever ideas unsuccessfully executed. There is ease when we let nature take its course. Our bodies need time to get used to new manoeuvres and work with our minds in new ways. When I accept the pace at which this happens and not insist on achieving, I experience more ease while still progressing at the same time.  

The ball rolls toward the gate, gracefully spinning its way through the narrow opening of the gate that hadn't been lodged. And there, it goes over the speed stripes formed by the dried leaves, halting before heading downslope. I lounge around as Daryl walks across the neighbouring court to pick up the ball, feeling a spray of fine mist on my face. Aahhh…the added perks of fall. One simply can’t enjoy fall without its showers of blessings. Even the trees in the park have embraced fall, showing up as cupcakes with lemon frosting or ice cream cones topped with cherries.

It isn’t too difficult to live a life of ease. One doesn’t require plenty. Luxury is welcomed but not a necessity for ease. The question for ourselves perhaps is, are we ready for ease? What must we let go—and can we—to allow for ease? The constant race in our minds will take a lifetime to cease.

I feel my arms and my legs, deeply entrenched in the story that I can only be one with the gentle breeze for me to flow. In that story, a gale would tear me asunder. But this body, though not as strong or fit, has after all braved through three days of canoeing out at sea, and a couple of hiking trips. None of those were easy feats. I can let the gale rush over me and be the still point. This body is what I’ve got. Either way, I am getting through this life with it, knowing that even crawling or rolling is an option.

I am here for me. I am okay with however I am.

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